The Coming war on General Computation

Here’s the Keynote speech by Cory Doctorow at the 28c3 conference in Berlin which posits a future war between platform appliances and general purpose computers. Quite an extensive keynote – which all good keynotes should be – which raises questions about what to do with the information at hand, rather than severely dominate the conference with information.

In essence, Doctorow argues that the war on copyright was nothing short of a tease, or a mini-boss in a narrative video game. The real fight on our hands comes from what he sees as the coming war on the general purpose computer. It’s easy to see this already happening now; iPhones do not sufficiently qualify as being general purpose, in the sense that IOS’s function is to deliberately cleanse any exterior insecurities, and command code through its own ‘regime of security’. It’s purpose is not to act as a general purpose computer (even though it is a general purpose computer), but an appliance which has an inbuilt, out of the box specific function which favours the proprietor. A general purpose computer (or a universal Turing machine in it’s original formulation) is a flexible machine, one can can takes on a fixed structure, which in effect can execute any computable function any specific machine can do.

I think Doctorow makes a good summary of whats going on which is more complex than simple resistance. I’m not sure framing the talk as a ‘war’ makes good on the complexity of the situation at hand. However he has valid points. The usual critical reply that accompanies this dichotomy of struggle aims to make light of the hypocritical nature of an iPhone user continuously launching apps from his/her device without any knowledge of the chains they encapsulate; whilst moaning about it at the same time (to the point of jailbreaking it when it doesn’t do the things we want). But the larger point here is the obvious one, iPhone’s work and they work really well and render daily life quite simple, Facebook is really good at what it does, Twitter is really good at allowing quick access into what’s going on, a Kindle really delivers online books quickly (or it’s supposed to). The point is, humans are very good at being sanguine about this sort of thing.

There are two points here:

1.) Doctorow understands this as not making the situation easier, but in realising that we cannot blame ourselves for being hypocrites. Appliances are fantastically functional for a bunch of specific tasks, which the infrastructure of the Western world commands. But as he argues, this only builds up the chance for a high fall and with dire consequences than ever; complete leaks of personal information, wasted money on music and video formats which fail to work if the device goes under.

2.) The structure of general purpose computation is more significant than I think Doctorow lets on. He identifies the purpose of the talk in order to issue a ‘5 year plan’ on what to do when the shit really hits the fan. The issue is about sophistication, duration and execution. If time isn’t an issue, and material contingent elements didn’t factor into runtime, a Turing complete machine is the most sophisticated machine available, no matter what device or appliance it comes in (there are infinite types of course) – it completely depends on what input your give it according what output comes out. Political interventions on the Web are only as sophisticated as the machines they execute on, and this potentially means that we’ve already exceeded that limit (that’s if, as Doctorow makes out, proprietary companies intend on making them less sophisticated in the future against public intervention).

 

A response to Jussi Parikka: or why materialism ‘encounter’ has lost its efficacy

Most of you have probably read Jussi Parikka’s latest piece on some Object Oriented Questions about OOO HERE; the comments are well worth a read if not for the usual can of worms OOO usually opens in the blogosphere. Paul Caplan replied HERE and Levi HERE, Graham’s also just replied with THESE TWO posts. But rather than repeat other responses, I thought I should offer my own specific thoughts on why I find OOO to be particularly vital (not in that way) at this moment in time and more specifically within my own research. That way, the efficacy of OOO can be explained, rather than pandering to commentary that haven’t read the material or purposely intend to just debunk for debunk’s sake.

That said, objections to and questions about OOO need to happen; you can’t just write blog-posts and sit at conferences acting as if you’ve ‘seen the light’, whilst waiting for everyone to get it. There have been some solid criticisms at OOO (depending on which variant you  wish to have a pop at), Shaviro on Harman have usually been the more consistent and I think we can add Jussi’s questions here as well.

Other criticisms though either miss the target by conflating OOO with a Latourian ANT (relations are on an equal footing, but do not constitute a substantial, withdrawn discrete entity), ridiculing it for being an ‘anything goes’ flat ontology (which is pertinently false, because whilst Ian Bogost and Levi subscribe to an indiscriminate flat ontology, Tim Morton and Graham subscribe to a two-fold  layer ontology of real and sensual entities) and lastly I’ve heard the same criticism over and over again from a multitude of sources that OOO is politically moribund and a relational ‘evental’ ontology is far superior, which I think are lazy swipes (on that note, here again is another  ‘axis split’ between the fourfold of OOO; Graham and Ian aren’t particularly bothered about an emancipatory use for OOO, whilst Tim and Levi clearly see some potential).

The two other criticisms I’ve heard don’t point to much. A lot of people have told me that they don’t like it because it’s ‘trendy’ – don’t really get that if I’m honest – thats NME music journalism: overly self-aware, debunking mentality, the statement of which amounts to no more of a “sell out!” mentality. The other issue is that some academics, (particular those in media theory if I’m honest) just plain don’t like the word ‘object’ for largely superficial semantic reasons. Personally speaking I’ve found Bogost’s use of the words ‘discrete’ and ‘unit’ to be better in explaining whats going on.

So what does OOO offer for my field (the computational arts) which I find helpful and genuinely new? Well it returns to that question which has been removed from the arts which deals with the autonomy of the artwork itself. This is the most important question I feel, the only question worth mulling over, not just aesthetically, but also politically. For the most part, the idea of an artwork having any form of autonomy has been flatly rejected for the last 50 years or so. The philosophical tradition which accompanies this question is never about the work itself, but about the human social encounter of the work, and where (if at all) the autonomy is located in such an encounter. If you want to move this encounter to the level of non-human, then you basically have relationalism.

So this is about materialism, but to critique materialism you have to pick which one; there are many to choose from of course; (dialectical materialism and the ‘blind spot’, the virtual pre-individual ‘process’ materialism, Marxist materialism of social ties, etc)

One of the things that I point out in my thesis is that most these ‘materialisms’ can be compressed into a form of artistic production which relies on a relational contingent encounter (which in the contemporary European tradition of art theory can actually be traced back to Althusser in fact). This mode of production has completely taken over any dialogue concerning the arts; People construct artworks = artworks are for cultural participation, the outcomes of which fail at autonomy again and again, because materialists aren’t interested in the thing, but are absorbed with the critical recalcitrant encounter.

Clearly we are now seeing a resurgence in media theorist thinkers talking about the materiality of what they’re looking at (Sean Cubitt and Jussi particularly), but my feeling is that the efficacy of understanding non-human materiality immediately dispenses with the autonomy of the work itself. It’s the trans-individual primacy of encounter which is to blame. Any ‘thingly’ power of an individual unit cannot be sustained, because materialist theory is consistently engaged with the contingency of that thing and the fact that it can always be other according to who or what encounters it in some sort of contextual, discursive network (here I realise I might conflict with Levi). The import of preliminary computation in European (particularly Zagreb) 60’s/70’s art practice had a more than decisive hand in this matters.

OOO has been instrumental in rethinking the ontological autonomy of discrete units.My own particular way of thinking computational autonomy is through recursion and algorithmic behaviour. Usually this is also looked at as a contingent ‘process’, from some pre-individual potential, but Bogost’s work has given more than enough ground to discredit this, and rightfully posit these procedures as actual operational procedures rather deny any autonomy away as a vaguely virtual process of event or flux.  The test then is to argue that non-computational processes are different types of formalistic procedures themselves, different only by degree.

A recursive thing does not emerge from it’s environment, because the environment itself is jam-packed full of recursive things. Contingency is never exterior to the thing, the thing produces the contingent relation.

God, I need to get this thesis finished.

Franco “Bifo” Berardi: After the Future

 

Geoff played this video on Friday’s conference. I wasn’t aware that Berardi did this kind of thing.

It was a shame, because he was meant to Skype in for a presentation and unfortunately he couldn’t make it, so Geoff played this. He’s a very colourful character is Bifo; very provocative, playful and like most political scholars from Italy exceedingly emotional, powerful, and watchable.

And no I don’t agree with everything he says, and I don’t submit to his philosophical position. But one should not scoff. And unfortunately most of the audience did and for divergent opposing reasons; either his political views were too metaphorical and not precise enough for political change or most people actually just didn’t like the agenda full stop.

But I can’t scoff when something is telling the world to have more compassion and more joy. I can’t scoff when someone thinks we should pay more attention to enjoy what we already have. And I really can’t scoff when someone tells me that the world should pay more attention to birds in the sky and flowers in the ground because ‘they don’t work or accumulate’. I don’t agree, but I don’t scoff.

Why would anyone scoff at that, other than to support a career of consistent debunking.

 

I found a copy of Ed Miliband’s speech

Here it is.

I found it on Tuesday night, at the back of a leather sofa in a Liverpudlian cafe, together with some notes on the back.

It’s a strange thing reading it. What’s weird is the structure of the sentencing; the entire speech is divvied out into discrete sentences like the following;

I say to David Cameron.

Put the politics aside.

Look at the facts.

Recognise what is staring you in the face.

And understand that protecting our economy matters more than protecting your failed plan.

So I’m going to tell it straight

That’s the lesson I have learnt about this job and myself over the last twelve months.

To be true to myself.

My instincts.

My values.

To take risks in the pursuit of that.

And to stand up for what is right.

It kind of reminds me of a piece that the Bristol based artist Rod Dickinson did two years ago, called “Who, What, Where, Why, How?” (2009). A very charged performance piece of two generic political figures (who are two actors) in a generic, abstract press briefing of some sort. The speech which is read out on a teleprompter, is written by Steve Rushton. But it’s cleverly composed from actual political speech fragments delivered at multiple speeches throughout a timeframe beginning from the Cold War right up to the relatively recent War on Terror. Everyone is in there, Bush, Obama, Thatcher, Major, Reagan, etc without any naming or self-adknowledgement as to who said what and when.

 

The result is similar to reading Miliband’s divvied generic political spiel; its just empty talk, designed to justify the same meandering ideology put forward by politics in general. Like Rushton’s speech, it just repeats itself, like an insidious feedback system.

Jobs may have gone, but the promise of salvation remains

So what if Steve Jobs has gone? The Catholicism automaton of Apple rolls on anew in any case. The converted will continue to silently convert the unconverted. Devices will still flitter the market; devices that convince users the ‘best’ way to print something, the ‘best’ way to make a phone call. Salvation is easy when you buy the Apple way.

For some strange reason, critics of Apple seem to think this ubiquity of facism is recent. In fact, the Catholicism has been present right from the Macintosh onwards, well ever since the Macintosh took the Apple II. The Macintosh presented itself as the easy black box PC – a device so encapsulated, one wonders why more people weren’t angry at the violence of its construction. As William Bowles puts it;

“[…] many people have raised serious objections to the ‘black box’ approach used by machines such as the Macintosh, arguing that by making the machine into a closed system it not only reduces the range of choices open to the user, but perhaps more importantly it encourages a particular attitude towards machines in general by mystifying the processes involved, which in turn leads to a state of unquestioning acceptance of the supremacy of technology. This is of course a process that began with the industrial revolution.”

The Macintosh provided the ultimate sensibility of mystification; conceal the mechanics of function and convince the user that its way is the only way. Salvation comes in the form of presenting a universal method of accessing objectives, ‘Anyone can do it’, ‘It just works’ – why settle for the hard gritty Protestant method of HCI where salvation is not guaranteed? Apple ‘will’ guarantee outcomes for you, through their designers, and late night rabble rousing celebrity openings. Apple’s catholicism has always been in the background since the Macintosh, its true nature has only been revealed through the contingent success of its smaller devices.

The worst element is that Apple believe it themselves! There is no genuine pretence here. They believe their own salvation, like cult leaders who readily spike the punch with cyanide. In these atheistic times, the converted public continue to scream and pray for these Catholic devices, evident in the late night openings and the rousing of Apple staff; scenes that one would find on the most ludicrous of American Church shows, where everyone is whipped into an evangelical frenzy for bit of silicon and metal. So much for secularism. Good design isn’t reducible to Apple employees or designers or even Jobs, it’s higher than thou, it’s higher than you.

In the short-term nothing will change of course. Cook is a reliable operations manager capable of keeping Apple’s products in the shops. But Steve Jobs will be Apple Chairman of course, just to keep the salvation in sight. However the sleight of hand here originates in the market change of users expecting catholic devices from the start. The expectation of the user is heightened, no one wants shit products.

Response to Levi

So Levi wrote THIS lengthy but necessary reply to my last post. In summary, Levi noted Ranciere’s equality of human spectator is wholly contingent on human criticism, and acknowledges that Ranciere’s aesthetic leanings could easily apply to non-human actors (which I completely agree with). Here’s Levi, who nails it as articulately as always:

“As a consequence, the claim that politics is restricted to the human is itself both a way of begging the question and itself an operation of a particular police order that counts in a particular way. Yet thinkers such as Jane Bennett and Bruno Latour have shown us how nonhumans can be understood to speak. This opens the possibility of a form of politics where nonhumans participate.”

However Levi disagrees with my second criticism that Ranciere upholds an aesthetic intention entirely dependent on relations.

“Discussing the way in which spectators might relate to an artwork is entirely different than claiming that art works are nothing but what they are for spectators. Ranciere’s thesis is that art is one way in which the order of the police or the distribution of the sensible can be contested and reconfigured.”

Just to clarify here, I am entirely on the side of the argument that artworks are entirely different from what they are for spectators: however from what I’ve read of Ranciere thus far, I don’t see him defending this notion whatsoever (clearly I am always aware that from what I have already read, I might have misunderstood, as well as accept conflicting arguments from publications I haven’t read yet).

It’s important here to clarify Levi’s views on the structure of the artwork, which are clearly different from Ranciere’s, because Levi is already ahead of the game by acknowledging artworks are entities in their own right irreducible to its relations. This means that Levi is, to some extent, already saying something vastly different to Ranciere, by exploring the way artworks are independent and have an impact on other entities. Because Ranciere views artworks as contingent on human meaning, he can only ever admit to presupposition that the work in question isn’t really an artwork in the discrete sense that Levi affords.

Also, the fact that Ranciere says art is one way of contesting the naturalness of the sensible, is not a deal breaker in boxing off aesthetics as different method of doing politics, or instilling the rupture of a regime. He’s already emphasised the democratic nature of aesthetic art by noting that ‘anything’ is a potential theme. This can only delay the question of distinguishing artwork from non-artwork, by appealing to an unpredictable rupture in the existing order/situation or a divorce from their prescribed functions, rather than a direct confrontation with a discrete entity. I’m not emphasising that the entity in question must be this or that, or exhibited by virtue of this or that (I’m not like Fried in that way!), but I am dissatisfied that no distinction is made between an object and an artwork. Ranciere is not interested in entities, he is interested in emancipated aesthetic experiences separate from the order of labour. He is not interested in the aesthetic depth in objects, but workers who become aesthetic spectators, who then go on to perturb their given distribution of the sensible of which they are a priori fitted. If there is any aesthetic break given, then it is not something that operates on an object to object level, but a contextual affair. If this isn’t made explicit in The Politics of Aesthetics, then it certainly is in The Emancipated Spectator.

Like I say, this isn’t a criticism of Levi, who advocates a entirely different premise – that presumably objects can also disrupt regimes of attraction and forge new modes of relation. Although the problem of distinguishing artwork from non-artwork always exists in the background, not just of Levi, but of OOO and any philosophy of aesthetics in general.

The truth is, any philosopher who chooses to discuss the structure of the artwork post-Duchamp, has to account for the crisis that Duchamp opened up. When Duchamp exhibited Bottle Rack (Egouttoir or Porte-bouteilles or Hérisson – left) in 1914, he knew that he wasn’t exhibiting a discrete artwork, but a simple object. The aesthetic point came from the anxious, rupturing situation the artwork forced to open up – and it is because of this, that the artwork became, not object, but relation. It was the web of relations that Duchamp made explicit, not the object. Like Ranciere, Duchamp also knew that the artwork invited the spectator to contribute in the creative act, the artwork could never be autonomous anymore. The artist does not intent to do anything anymore, but rather create indeterminacy (and this is done precisely by affording the spectator individual meaning in the first place).

 

Therefore OOO and politics

There’s been a ‘discussion flurry’ on the topic of OOO and politics. Intra Being has a decent summation on it, riffing on Morton’s posts (HERE) and Levi’s posts (HERE) and (HERE). Can a egalitarian position be articulated in OOO, can a restoration of democratic values be reworked by the plurality of object behaviour? I for one, sense that the scope should not be focusing on units completely, but focusing on the situations inherent to OOO that emphasise determinacy over indeterminacy.

The first thing about OOO, which strikes me as being politically useful is that it is an altogether different type of determinate metaphysics. Whilst Levi’s mediations on Ranciere’s political schema are noteworthy and promising, the outcome of Ranciere’s manoeuvres, (particularly in his, very current and influential visual aesthetic criticism: see The Emancipated Spectator and The Politics of Aesthetics) are not only contingent on human behaviour (which Levi notes) but are also contingent on a wholly relational indeterminate system. This isn’t directed at Levi; it’s an aesthetic gripe with Ranciere, who actively mingles with relational aesthetics. For those who aren’t familiar, relational aesthetics is term given to a contemporary form of aesthetics which exists (and are critiqued) as an active relational, ‘hands on’ form of art production. There is no work, in the ‘traditional’ form of painting, sculpture, video, performance, but the work is entirely contingent on audience participation in the form of communities, actions, happenings and dramatisation.

Ranciere’s mapping of relational aesthetics and relational politics is conflated in an attempt to not only democratise the spectator, but to also simultaneously dismantle, what he calls the a priori ‘distribution of the sensible’ (e.g. the dominant structure of the police to keep the sensible in order). Like politics, Ranciere tracks the notion (both historically and critically) that art makes new communities and emancipatory situations: which is all very well and good, but I sincerely detest the idea that the artwork is nothing but relations between communities – a dominant ontological strategy in contemporary aesthetics that OOO manages to healthily dispatch with.

Getting back to the politics question, I will rehearse an argument from a previous paper [HERE -PDF] (which is likely to be book chapter – more on that when it is confirmed), I think the correct road here is to analyse political thinkers who have critiqued the metaphysical form of politics as being insidious. Heidegger’s critique of onto theology is a starting example here of course, but the main thinkers who are particularly good at analysing the stance of metaphysical politics are Gianni Vattimo and the relatively unknown Austrian media theorist Wolfgang Sutzl. For both of these thinkers, the operation of a dominating political regime, works by negating exterior perspectives in so far as, the metaphysical stance focuses solely on one entity as an explanation for everything else.

In fact, Sutzl is noteworthy here, for he suggests that negating exterior perspectives is the main preoccupation behind the Western infatuation with ‘security’, post 9/11, along with a rigorous update of Heidegger’s critique of technology [He argues this in the essay Languages of Surprise (2009), which is a must read, PDF HERE]. And as a media theorist, he also suggests (following Agamben) that the metaphysical security stance (one that secures presence) plays into the hands of every day mediation in general; police troops measure and ‘secure’ dissident public demonstrations, governments (such as Mubarak’s) perpetuate ‘state of emergencies’ to secure criminals in exceptional circumstances, security software secures malware code and suspicious keywords into a state of ordering. Politics doesn’t have to be a straightforward “take down capitalism at all costs” kind of situation, which the humanities seem to be particularly adept at repeating (thats not to say it shouldn’t be like that), but it could be as simple as questioning the reasons behind the increasing presence-ing of security.

But the key element behind OOO, especially Harman’s variant, is the commitment to a metaphysical stance that does not negate exterior perspectives whatsoever. In fact, it is the total opposite; OOO actually exemplifies exterior perspectives and seeks them out, wherever they may be.

What does this mean? You get something similar to Latour’s compositionist manifesto [PDF] – and in particular, something similar to his ethical quip that one should search for universality, without presuming that universality exists in the first place. From my own perspective, I think that if an OOO politics is worthy of the task, it should track the heterogenous composition of determinate regimes like security, but it should also be aware that some serious work is needed if one wants something like democratic justice. Like anything in this world, to compose something tangible takes an enormous amount of work to compose, even if its for evil. Evil structures have an essence, along with gooseberries, milk and nail varnish. One could take Sutzl’s challenge of searching for security structures in the world of objects – boards securing windows during a hurricane, chains securing dogs outside shops, the sun secures planets around its orbit. A true OOO politics would find issues such as security to be fairly ubiquitous in ontology.

And crucially, one should stress that political regimes, or even the ‘distribution of the sensible’, take an enormous amount of work to upkeep. There is nothing more alien than thinking that a regime just exists as a grounded thing. More and more, the correct approach to this, and I relate to the composition of artworks as well, is not to compose a political situation by way of indeterminacy, but precisely the opposite; one should compose an determinate unitary entity of execution and submit to it fully, and not only that, it should ward off any indeterminate outlook.

 

 

Apple and the Cult

Forget the (non) rapture – more evidence is emerging of the self-evident, cult, evangelical religious stance that accompanies the use, purchase and community of Apple’s products. If we consider ourselves to be agnostic in these rational, modern times, scenes from the BBC’s Secrets of the Superbrands of the opening of an Apple shop, should avert us to Umberto Eco’s quip long ago on September 30th, 1994. (Geoff and I also mentioned this at the start of our paper last week for Platform Politics)

“The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counterreformist and has been influenced by the “ratio studiorum” of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach – if not the Kingdom of Heaven – the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.

DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: a long way from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.

You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counterreformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It’s true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions…..”

Other revelations that the BBC documentary highlighted were the evidence of some MRI scans that showed the similarity between a hardcore Apple fan’s brain stimulated by apple products and other paraphernalia, and the brain of a person of faith when stimulated by religious imagery.

I have to go to work, but I really would urge you to watch the BBC programme on the BBC’s iPlayer (!!!). It is beyond the level of worrying.

Platform Politics: A more expository post

Building on from my previous post on the event: here are some more detailed points now that I’ve had a few days to consider the results of the conference.

1.) Given that all of the papers were of an exceptionally high standard in their respective fields, (critical theory, software studies, sociology, censorship law, emancipatory politics, etc) I felt that there was general sense of muted frustration. The frustration I’m speaking of, concerns the efforts of mapping two of the most incredibly esoteric disciplines imaginable; Critical, political theory/philosophy on the one hand, computation and platform analysis on the other. Considering that both have to presume a lot of the viewer beforehand in elucidating technical ability and contextual history, I’m not surprised a lot of the Q&A’s were focused on the conflicts between ‘what is theorised’ and ‘what is actually happening in reality’.

2.) It is for this very reason that I took a lot more from Dmytri Kleiner’s paper than from anyone else’s. Two reasons here. The first is that he has genuinely fresh new ideas about fusing political practice and software together into a bona-fide artistic/mediated practice. The second is the refreshing honesty that accompanied his presentation on being theory-light. A question was asked about whether he had read this thinker, or considered Negri’s multitude politics, and his answer was just one of “Well apart from Marx, I don’t really read much theory, so I don’t know. However I’d like to read some.” The crucial element here was not some rhetorical debasement of theory, nor any complex trumpery that privileged a mixture of practice over theory: Kleiner simply had no inclination towards applying theory towards his practice for the reason that, he simply didn’t need theory to make his work any more potent than it already was.

3.) Crucially this understated position was not one of ignorance. As an experienced freelance developer of some 20 years or so, Kleiner knows what he is talking about when he argues that Capitalism had literally ‘bought’ the internet, or that Peer-2-Peer networks are intrinsically communist and client-server structures are property driven. Kleiner does not need theory, and theory does not need his work, as Kleiner can deliver politics and philosophical ideas through the artistic praxis of his projects. This is important, both for theory and ontology. It doesn’t matter that Kleiner probably hasn’t read the exclusive history of politics and ontology – he is very much doing it, because that is what ontology is.

4.) The reception of Paul Caplan’s paper was well received and generally delivered on its promise of applying an Object Oriented Ontology methodology onto the themes discussed during the conference. There are only objects and their relations, and they are not context driven. It will however, be hard to shake off the network-systems-relations epoch that currently dominates the theoretical sphere of today. This is not to shake off relations totally, as Paul maintained but to rethink the configurability of unitary objects again rather than systems that contain no hidden secrets. You cannot have agency in a totally relational network, something must be kept hidden, so as to present novelty, otherwise it gets passed from pillar to post down the line of causal things, or even worse gets passed to the virtual realm that is never properly accounted for anyway. If you want a sense of that confusion try mapping Object Oriented Programming onto Object Oriented Ontology.

5.) Greg Elmer gave an excellent summary of the conference, highlighting the potential misses (circulation, API’s) that many of the papers touched on, but never hit directly: although I (naturally) disagree with his comments about the problems with discrete objects in media as objecting history, or that we should rethink social media as objectifying history. This was even weirder considering that no-one really mentioned Object Oriented Programming either during the conference: without OOP, you can forget the ‘net’ as it is. Furthermore, Greg suggested that media is tuned into the ever present, obsessed with making future things present or objectified. But this is not object oriented ontology; this is straight up criticism of what Heidegger would call standing reserve, of which object’s are not. OOO objects are not lumps of ‘present at hand’ stuff that need to be removed in order to concentrate on deep relations.

 

EcoTone 1: Object, Space and Entanglements

Along with a Mr (soon to be Dr) Paul Ennis, Kevin Love (NTU) and a Mr Paul Caplan (Birkbeck), I’ve been invited to give a talk at Nottingham Trent University on the 28th June for an event entitled EcoTone 1: Object Space and Entanglements. It’ll be on environment, artistic, philosophical intertwining issues, with our panel leaning towards the OOO side of things. Very exciting times!

It will be organised by David Reid from the School of Art and Design. The whole event will be a mixture of different disciplines coming together (hence the title), and I’ll reveal more when I can. You can visit the EcoTone webpage HERE, to give some flavour of the types of questions that will be put forward.

My talk will be entitled The Agency of Waste: and yes for those who watched me yesterday, I’m not done with Laporte quite yet.

There will also be another event at NTU involving Paul and I in July. This one is called Perceptions of Practice, but more will be revealed for that one as well.